An Introduction to Information Theory, Symbols, Signals and Noise (Dover Books on Mathematics) Paperback – 1 Jan 1980
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About the Author
JOHN R. PIERCE, M.D. (Col. MC, U.S. Army, Ret.), wrote the series of articles on which this book is based for Stripe, a publication for Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) personnel and included on dcmilitary.com, a Web site for military personnel in the Washington, D.C., area. Pierce recently retired after thirty years of active duty, a significant portion of that spent at WRAMC. With Pierce, JIM WRITER coedited a supplement to the journal "Military Medicine" on the 1900 Yellow Fever Board.
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Top Customer Reviews
The first four chapters set the scene and build towards a consideration of entropy. This chapter is quite heavy going but we are then rewarded with two rather easier chapters which allow us to catch our breath. The author then turns his attention to the problem of noise. We are also given a glimpse of how n-dimensional geometry was used by Claude Shannon to prove an important theory on the effect of noise on signal transmission.
There are chapters on the application of Information Theory to physics, cybernetics, psychology and art. Since the book was published in 1961 and revised in 1980, some of this is rather dated now - anyone still using cassette tapes to store their computer data?
I came to this book simply wanting an introduction to the subject. The early parts of the book were excellent and far exceeded my expectations. Others may subsequently review this book from the perspective of being well-acquainted with the subject and being more familiar with recent developments. My perspective relates to its accessibility.
If someone has a reasonable mathematical background they should find this book very approachable. To get the most from this book, the reader should probably be familiar with logarithms, indices, 3-D geometry and the sigma notation for summation. For those who aren't, the author does provide an appendix which gives a brief introduction to most of the relevant background mathematics.
After explaining the key concepts and their applications to communications systems, including communications in the presence of noise, channel capacity and error correction, later chapters cover the relationship with physics (physical origins of noise, thermodynamic entropy), cybernetics, psychology and art. Its relationship to natural language (using English as the example) is a recurring theme through the book. Thus the author tackles the question that will be in the minds of many readers: the relationship of the precise mathematical concept of information in Information Theory with the imprecise notions of the every day use of the word.
The book is beautifully written and the explanations are very clear. The author waxes philosophically on the nature of science on occasion in order to set Information Theory in context. Some of this might seem a little over the top for the subject matter, but on the whole I rather enjoyed that.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book is geared towards non-mathematicians, but it is not just a tour. Pierce tackles the main ideas just not all the techniques and special cases.
Perfect for: anyone in science, linguistics, or engineering. Very good for: everyone else.
This is the ONLY book of which I am aware which attempts to present Shannon's results to the educated lay reader, and Pierce does a crackerjack job of it. Notwithstanding, this is not a book for the casual reader. The ideas underlying the theory are inherently subtle and mathematical, although there are numerous practical manifestations of them in nature, and in human "information transmission" behavior. On the other hand, this is a work which repays all effort invested in its mastery many times over.
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